International construction firm builds up NH presence

Structure Tone, an international construction company founded in New York nearly 50 years ago, is expanding its presence in New Hampshire after building and moving into an office building at 7 Rockingham Road in Windham in February.

Thomas Roy, veteran developer and Structure Tone’s regional director of Northern New England, said the company’s sales more than doubled in the first three years and are on track to reach new heights next year.

He said the New Hampshire office brought in about $7 million in sales in 2017 and oversaw local projects such as the new fire station in Hudson. Sales grew to $12 million in 2018 and $17 million by 2019

“This year our projection is $25 million and in 2021 our projection is $30 million to $35 million,” Roy said.

He credits the growth to maintaining a good reputation with clients and bringing in old clients from when he owned and operated Manchester firm Kelly Construction Co. for about 30 years.

Structure Tone’s New Hampshire portfolio has so far focused on higher education institutions such as Dartmouth College and the University System of New Hampshire, various municipal projects, state government contracts and some banks. They also boast deals with BAE Systems and Tom’s of Maine.

Moving forward, Roy said the company hopes to break into more medical, commercial and educational sectors.

“We want to expand our K-12 resume as well,” he said.

Roy, who was hired in 2015, said the Boston office first established a New Hampshire presence under Roy’s supervision in 2016 with a 900-square-foot office at 59 Stiles Road in Salem and about three employees under him by the end of the first year.

As it grew, the company later expanded into a second-floor 1,500-square-foot space in the same building. After building the office on Rockingham Road for Anthony Berni Sr. and Anthony Berni Jr., local property owners who spent about $1.4 million for the building, Roy said Structure Tone saw an opportunity to lease the first floor from the Bernis.

He said they signed a five-year lease for the 3,200-square-foot space and spent about $350,000 to build out the interior.

Roy said the office has 12 employees now and is looking to grow to about 16 to 18 employees by the end of this year. Structure Tone is looking for more project managers, field superintendents and a senior estimator.

He said the company offers competitive pay and benefits, especially since estimators are particularly hard to hire and retain.

“Structure Tone is one of the biggest construction companies in the world, but no one heard of them in New Hampshire,” Roy said.

He said he’s seen other construction companies in Boston try to break into New Hampshire but failed, in part because they didn’t start out with the client contacts he brought with him.

With Kelly Construction, Roy said he built the former C.R. Sparks building in Bedford, the Best Western hotel on South Willow Street next to Backyard Brewery, and the Hanover Street Chophouse, to name a few.

After the Great Recession in 2008, Kelly took some “serious hits” and Roy decided to shutter the business.

“I just quietly closed it down and decided to look for something else to do, and I found Structure Tone,” Roy said.

Right now, Structure Tone is building a new surgery center and renovating an ophthalmology center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School campus in Worcester, Mass., and he’s hoping they’ll be able to leverage that experience for more projects like that.

“We’re trying to introduce Structure Tone to our medical clients now,” Roy said.

Similarly, Roy said Structure Tone is building its K-12 resume by working on the Sanford schools in Maine, projects that will convert the district’s old high school into a middle school and old middle school into an elementary school.

Right now, Roy said Harvey Construction nearly monopolizes the K-12 projects in the state, with about 90 percent of the contracts.

Overall, Roy said the future is uncertain, but he’s optimistic, saying every aspect of construction seems to be expanding.

“With the economy the way it has been, we all don’t know what’s gonna happen down the road,” Roy said. “I don’t see a slowdown anywhere.”

While they are growing fast, Roy said they are careful not to take on too many projects at once so the quality of their work doesn’t suffer. As such, he said they’ve had to turn down some contracts, such as a $6 million project for the University of New Hampshire.

For now, Roy said the New Hampshire office is considered a satellite of the Boston office, with its revenues going to Boston, but if it grows big enough he said it can potentially become its own entity in the future.

From Boston, the company is overseen by Mike Ryan, the senior vice president for New England. Roy said he has worked closely with Ryan since the two toured the state and began making inroads with clients before starting the New Hampshire office.

Structure Tone’s parent company STO Building Group was founded as Structure Tone in 1971. In the past two years, it has acquired large construction firms like Ajax Building Company, BCCI Construction Co. and Layton Construction.

STO has over 3,000 employees with offices across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland.